How Much Nitrogen Do I Use to Fertilize my Fall Hybrid Rye?

Submitted by John Heard, Crop Nutrition Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Interest and acreage of fall rye has grown substantially in Manitoba. Hybrid rye has about a 20% yield advantage over traditional open pollinated (OP) varieties and are expanding onto more productive soils than rye’s historic range on the droughty sands.

With increased yield potential comes the question about nitrogen rates to sustain that higher yield. The hybrids are shorter and more lodging tolerant, so one might suspect they can tolerate more nitrogen, and hence respond to more nitrogen. Very few studies have looked at nitrogen rates of the open pollinated versus hybrid varieties. Three Saskatchewan studies provide the extent of the data. From this data we observe the substantial yield increase of the hybrids over the open pollinated variety but that similar rates of nitrogen are required to optimize yield of each.

Read the whole story here (PDF 325KB): hybrid-rye-fertilization-rates


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Hail Damage – What is the Yield Loss in Cereals & Corn?

Submitted by Anne Kirk, Cereal Crop Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Hail has been reported in several areas of Manitoba, and due to the size of the hail and duration of the storm, crops were affected in some areas.  Assessments of damage will occur over the next few days.  The amount of loss expected from a hail event depends on the severity of hail, crop type, and the growth stage of the crop.

Spring Wheat – is least susceptible to hail damage prior to stem elongation since the growing point is below the soil surface and will likely not be damaged.  Hail damage during jointing or in the boot stage is difficult to assess.  Spikes can still pollinate and fill, and regrowth from new tillers can occur.  The more advanced the wheat is at the time of hail the greater the yield loss.  The greatest yield reduction from hail occurs in the milk stage.

Oats and Barley –  will tiller and recover better from hail than wheat, especially prior to the boot stage.  Grower experience has demonstrated that barley hailed severely in the boot stage has recovered to produce 70-80% of normal yield.  Crop hailed prior to the boot stage should be left if stems or green tissue remains.

Corn – early season hail occurring when the growing point is still below the soil surface will result in very little yield loss.  At the 6 leaf stage the growing point is above ground, but leaf loss without damage to the growing point has a small impact on yield.  Yield loss as a result of hail can be estimated by determining percent leaf defoliation (Table 2).   Leaf area removed and leaf necrosis need to be considered, while damaged green leaf tissue should not be included.  Assess leaves 7-10 days after a hail event, so that living and dead tissue can be easily distinguished.

Assessing Damage – New growth should be evident within a few days after a hail event.  Assess crop to evaluate new crop growth.    Yield potential of a damaged crop will depend on rainfall and temperatures in the next 30 days after hail damage.


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Updated Cereal/Oilseed/Pulse Maps for Yield, Acreage and Seeding Date Now Available

Manitoba Agriculture’s Crop Industry Branch and MASC has updated and posted yield, acreage and seeding date maps for cereal, oilseed and pulse crops at

The maps can be found at the link above under the heading “Thematic Crop Maps“‎. Time frame in most cases is 2006 to 2015 (10 year), but 2011 to 2015 is also available for soybean, feed wheat and corn to reflect the acreage changes that occurred in the past 5 years.

Many thanks to Doug Wilcox‎ from MASC for the database, and Les Mitchell and Natalie Azure from the Crop Industry Branch who developed and created the maps for this project.


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Provincial 5-Year Average Yields for Cereal Crops in Manitoba

As Harvest 2016 progresses, there is always the question “How will this year’s yields compare to what producers typically see, i.e. average yields?”

If we use yield data reported by producers to Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC)  over the last 5-year period (2011 to 2015), average cereal crop yields are as follows:

  • red spring wheat – 51 bushels per acre
  • feed wheat – 68 bushels per acre
  • CPS wheat – 48 bushels per acre
  • barley – 64 bushels per acre
  • oats – 91 bushels per acre
  • winter wheat – 63 bushels per acre
  • fall rye – 44 bushels per acre

Note: varieties insured as feed wheat can belong to a number of wheat classes, including Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS), Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) and Canada Northern Hard Red (CNHR), as well as unregistered varieties.

So far in 2016, yields for cereal crops are ranging from average to above the 5-year average.  However, there is variability noted across the province, largely due to the amount of precipitation received over the growing season.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Data source:

Manitoba Agriculture website:
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Estimating Harvest Losses in Cereals – Don’t Just Rely on the Grain Loss Monitor!


Winter wheat and fall rye harvest is underway in Manitoba. Since final yields aren’t determined until the crop is in the bin, attention now has to be focused on the harvest operation. Grain loss at harvesting time is a direct loss of income. The more grain saved, the greater the returns. The following information comes from 2 articles: ‘Grain Harvest Losses’ by V. Hofman with edits by Dr. J Wiersma & T. Allrich (University of Minnesota) and ‘Estimating Harvest Loss’ by G. Carlson & D. Clay (South Dakota State University).

Grain harvest losses result from shattering of the standing grain, shattering during windrowing (swathing) or direct combining, picking up the swath with the combine, and threshing, separating and cleaning within the combine. Estimates of acceptable losses for small grains such as wheat, barley and oats are placed at 3% of total yield (total yield equals harvested yield plus harvest losses).

It is usually very difficult to reduce total losses below 1 to 2% so the operator must decide on the value of the crop, the cost of combining and the time available for combining or climate conditions. Some harvest loss is unavoidable in order to get harvesting done in the time available with an end goal of cleaned harvested grain.

Estimating Harvest Losses.  Advancements in engineering have greatly improved harvest operations. Combines have various types of monitoring equipment available, including grain loss monitors, to help alert the operator to any potential problems.  A grain loss monitor is a good guide in selecting travel speed for varying conditions such as size of windrow and moisture conditions. A grain loss monitor must be calibrated to provide an acceptable grain loss reading. If the combine is used on different crops, the monitors are not only useful in limiting maximum speeds and losses, but can be used to properly feed the combine for optimum capacity.

However, a grain loss monitor is not a substitute for careful machine adjustments and good old fashioned monitoring, i.e. getting out of the combine to estimate losses. Or even better, when your local retail agronomist comes out with cold beverages, put him/her to work to estimate harvest losses.

A simple and rough estimate of grain loss requires the use of a one-foot square frame. A rough estimate of how much grain is left behind in a harvested field can be done with a few simple steps:

  1. Pick a typical area of the field after the combine has passed.
  2. Place a 1 ft by 1 ft (inside dimension) box on the ground and count the kernels found within the box. To improve accuracy, three counts (one behind the left side of the header, one behind the centre of the combine, and one behind the right side of the combine) are better.
  3. A one (1) bushel per acre loss equates to 20 wheat kernels/ft2, 14 barley kernels/ft2 and 10 oat kernels/ft2. Keep in mind that this is a ‘fudge factor’ but for the purpose of rough field estimation is an adequate estimate. There are more accurate ways to estimate harvest losses which take into consideration the width of windrower cut and combine cylinder.

If losses are on the high end, some investigation is warranted to try and identify the source of loss.  Is the crop shattering prior to the arrival of the combine (to check for losses that occurred prior to the arrival of the combine, i.e. shattering, use the method above in the unharvested areas of the field)? Are there header losses? Or are the losses due to less than perfect threshing/separation of grain within the combine?  Finding the answer may help to adjust the harvest operation and maximize the amount of grain going into the bin!

Good luck with #Harvest16!

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Manitoba Agriculture website:
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Uniform Emergence in Corn Critical to Yield

Ensuring corn emerges uniformly is the first step in maximizing yield potential.

Why Corn Emerges Unevenly.  The most common reason for uneven corn emergence is soil moisture. Soil moisture in the seed zone can differ because of variations in soil type, topography, and uneven distribution of moist and dry soils due to secondary tillage. Cloddy seedbeds caused by working the ground too wet can result in poor contact between seed and soil, allowing some seeds to germinate while others are too dry.

Another factor affecting corn emergence is soil temperature. Seed depth soil temperatures can vary if crop residues aren’t evenly distributed, if seed depths vary, and if soil within fields vary in type and topography. Corn may also emerge non-uniformly because of variable soil crusting, herbicide injury or because of insects or diseases.

Impact on Grain Yields. Competition from larger, early-emerging plants will decrease the yield of smaller, later-emerging plants. Research out of the University of Illinois examined the effect of non-uniform emergence on grain yield. Plots were hand planted and consisted of uniformly planted plots on three separate dates, and various combinations with certain parts of the plot seeded at a later date to simulate delayed emergence.

When looking at within row emergence patterns, a definite yield decrease was seen when plants emerged later than their neighbor (see Table 1).

Table 1: The effect of planting date and uniformity of emergence within row of corn yield.


(Average of 7 locations in Illinois and Wisconsin from 1986-1987).  Source: Nafziger, Carter and Graham, Crop Science 31: 811-815 (1991).

The treatment 3E:1M consisted of one plant in every four being planted 10 days later. The result is a decrease in yield of 12 bu/acre (176 bu/ac) compared to the plots where all plants emerged uniformly on the early planting date (188 bu/ac). This yield loss was similar if the entire stand was delayed 10 days. Similar results are seen when emergence (planting) was delayed by 3 weeks, where a decrease in yield of 20 bu/ac was seen compared to the plots where all the plants emerged uniformly on the early planting date.

What to Look at Before & After Planting. Careful planter preparation and pre-planting management are crucial factors affecting uniformity of emergence. On the planter, factors to check include:

  • opening discs are aligned
  • ensure planter is level
  • properly adjust seed firming wheels
  • proper seed depth placement.

Pre-planting management factors to check include:

  • residue – is it bunched?
  • ensure field is not too rough

During planting, also ensure speed is suitable for the field conditions. If field conditions are poor and planting is done at a higher speed, the planter bounce can causing seed depth misplacement. So if one seed out of four is placed out of moisture and it doesn’t rain for a week, a yield decrease may result.

After the crop is up and growing, examine to see if the corn plants are all at the same leaf stage. If there are plants that are one to two leaves behind their neighbors, it could indicate problems with emergence. Nothing can be done for this growing season but knowing what caused it can help with future corn seeding operations.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, MAFRD

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The Relationship between Yield & Protein in MCVET Spring Wheat

There are numerous factors that impact protein content in wheat.  While environmental factors such as moisture and temperature have large effects on protein content, production practices such as variety selection, seeding date and fertility management can also influence protein content.

Influence of Genetics.  Not all wheat varieties have the same potential for grain yield and differ slightly in their ability to convert soil nitrogen to grain protein.  We typically see higher yielding varieties with lower protein content, largely due to dilution as protein is diluted by the increased carbohydrate (i.e. kernel number) production seen with higher yields.

Manitoba Data. Jochum Wiersma of the University of Minnesota created the following scatter plot for me that I included in a recent Ag Days 2015 presentation. The figure includes the long term data of varieties belonging to the CWRS & the CWGP classes tested by MCVET.   Long term yield data is from 2000 to 2014 expressed as a % of the overall grand mean (66 bu/ac), while protein data is from 2002 to 2014.


As the figure illustrates, there is a grouping of varieties according to class based on the relationship between yield and protein content.  However, there is variation with each class and there are a few varieties with higher yield potential that still has protein content appropriate for the CWRS class.

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist

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Seeding Date Relationship to Crop Yield

One of our most used extension messages is seed early!

In a year that is later, this may cause some concern that seeding into the second half of May is not going to have good crop yields. Typically seeding earlier does normally translate into higher yields, but good yield potential remains when seeding throughout the month of May, provided you don’t compromise the seeding operation.

Things Other than Seeding Date That Influence Yield:

  • Using clean seed with high %germination
  • Applying the appropriate fertilizer nutrients and rates to support yield goals
  • Seeding for a good plant stand – taking in account TKW, %germination and seed mortality!
  • Seeding into a firm seedbed
  • Seeding into soil warm enough to result in quick germination and emergence
  • Timely weed control
  • Timely fungicide application if needed
  • Appropriate harvest operation timing

2005-13 Seeding Date x Yield

Table 1: Crop Yield Response to Seeding Date (2005-2013)

Source: MASC – Harvested Acreage Report (2005-2013)

For more information see MAFRD website post “Crop Choice Considerations in a Delayed Year”


 Contributed byAnastasia Kubinec, MAFRD Oilseed Crop Specialist



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Lodging in Cereal Crops: Part 1 – Effect on Yield

Lodging in cereal crops has become a common site in many fields across Manitoba over the past few weeks.  Lodging is often caused by weather conditions, such as rain, wind and/or hail.  However, other factors including fertility program (high nitrogen) and crop management practices (variety selection, seeding date, seeding depth, seeding rates, disease control) all can impact the crop’s susceptibility to lodging.

Effect of Lodging on Yield:

The biggest question that normally surrounds lodging is the impact on yield.  Lodging may reduce yield in a number of ways:

  • Lodging interferes with photosynthesis and carbohydrate movement in the plant, potentially impacting both number of kernels per head and individual kernel weight.
  • Foliar diseases may increase due to a more humid microclimate within the lodged crop.
  • Loss of un-threshed heads can lead to harvest losses, particularly if lodging has resulted in stem breakage.

In addition, lodging can contribute to uneven maturity and decreased harvest efficiency.  Harvest of a lodged crop takes more time and can be more difficult depending upon severity of the lodging.  Harvest efficiency may be impacted due to a reduction of travel speed and more straw entering the combine due to a lowering of the header/knives to accommodate the lodged crop.

However, the effects of lodging on final yield will depend largely on growth stage, weather conditions that occur after lodging, and of course the severity of the lodging.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, MAFRD

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Should I Be Cancelling My Soybean Seed?

Answer (provided by Dennis Lange, MAFRI Farm Production Advisor at Altona):

 Before you considering cancelling you soybean seed, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Variety Choice:  Is the variety suited for your growing region? If you chose a variety based on maturity ( found in Seed Manitoba 2013) and you are planting in May, you should reach  maturity  before reaching a killing frost, based on a normal growing season.
  2. Soil temperature: Soybeans like warm soils to germinate and grow. The warmer the soil, the quicker the beans come out of the ground.  For example, with soil temperatures at 10°C soybeans  take 14-17 days to emerge  vs. 7-10 days when soil temperatures are at 15°C.
  3. Seeding Date: Know the seeding deadlines in your growing region. If in Soybean Area 1, full coverage deadline is June 6. If in Soybean Areas 2, 3 or new crop insurance test area, your deadline is May 30. For further information contact MASC to determine which area you are in. Table 1: Soybean Yields by Seeding Date (2008-2012)

Using MASC seeding information from 2008-2012, yield potential differs depending on seeding date by Risk area.  

  • Risk Area 12 (includes Red River Valley) – highest yield potential was seeded during the 2nd week of May. 
  • In Western Manitoba:
  • Risk Area 1 – best yields when seeded in the 4th week of May, followed by week 3
  • Risk Area 2 – best yields in the 2nd week of May, with weeks 3 and 4 equal
  • Risk Area 3 – best yields in the 3rd week of May, followed by the 4th and 2nd weeks
  • Risk Area 4 – best yields in the 2nd week of May, with yields dropping in 4th week
  • Risk area 15 – similar to Risk Area 4 trends with best week the 2nd and yields dropping in the 4th week of May 

 In conclusion, if you are planting a variety that is suited for your growing region and planting in May, you should be confident that growing soybeans this year is still the right decision. Beans like warm soil so typically, planting in the 2nd or 3rd week of May when soil temperatures are warmer, allows the beans to get out of the ground quicker. But, waiting until June to plant, increases the risk of fall frost damage and yield reductions.

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